New York’s Jeff Gural, a venerated real estate business tycoon, recently proposed expansion of gambling to North Jersey. For more than two years, he has run the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J.
On Thursday, when he took a seat on a dais at the horse racing track, he smiled to see numerous elected officials ready to support putting a referendum this season in front of voters to take gambling to North Jersey. Also, they backed the businessman’s vision to introduce a casino worth $1 billion at the racetrack.
In fact, Vincent Prieto, State Assembly Speaker and a Democrat, was present at the time and he equally supported the idea. In addition, Gov. Chris Christie backed the notion of introducing a casino in the northern Jersey. Nevertheless, he did not show up at the event.
There is a huge impetus for expanding gambling reach to North New Jersey. Also, it has been a highly enticing goal since long to have a gambling site nearby New York City. With his newest idea, Mr. Gural is looking forward to taking this drive a step further while building associations among elected officials.
Mr. Gural and the Hard Rock, his partner, expect to see tax revenues of around $400 million a year with the anticipated Hard Rock Casino. Since, merely within 50 miles of Meadowlands Racetrack, there are more than 14 million adults. According to Mr. Gural, half the revenue would be dedicated to reviving Atlantic City, wherein a total of four casinos got shut the previous year.
He added that the opposition from Atlantic City along with that from South Jersey lawmakers needed to be trounced by the casino idea. It even needed to win a referendum across the state. However, the fight over future of New Jersey gambling has put 73-year-old Mr. Gural at the core of a vicious tri-state gambling war. It has made Pennsylvania casinos ruin Atlantic City’s life, with the only casino in New York City to be a runway success.
Besides the plan to bring a casino in North Jersey, Mr. Gural, a farm owner in Stanfordville, N.Y., and Litchfield, Pa., is also expected to bid for a casino in Nichols, N.Y. Nonetheless, to your surprise, he has no liking for casino gambling. Rather, his recent plans are an outcome of his evergreen love of horses, which began when he was in high school. He raises a total of 80 Standardbred horses in Litchfield.
According to Mr. Gural’s say, it is equally important to save horse industry as it is to ensure Atlantic City’s safety. And it is not possible sans subsidizing it by a form of gambling. Until now, he owned Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a major commercial real estate firm, where he still works as chairman. Also, he was looking after a family portfolio comprising 40 buildings, which he sold some years back.
While he initially worked with Aaron, his father, in the real estate business, he along with Newmark’s chief executive Barry M. Gosin (also his friend) bought out his father. Thereafter, he built himself as a rare liberal Democrat in his industry. He earned the title of a “soft touch” for varied charities as well.
In the words of Mr. Gosin, Mr. Gural liked money, but only to pay the bills, and never got motivated by the same.
At the time when New York State let racetracks deploy electronic slot machines, two bankrupt harness tracks dubbed Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs were purchased and reopened by Mr. Gural in central New York. The two harness tracks had hundreds of people and these produced more than $300 million for public education. These now have slot machines.
Meanwhile, in 2012, Mr. Gural signed the agreement for the Meadowlands Racetrack with Governor Christie, and developed a grandstand worth $120 million. Analysts say that the Meadowlands easily lures young customers in a huge number. Mr. Gural bet that whether it is the New York tracks or the Meadowlands, slot parlors at both the places had the potential to have complete casinos.
But if Mr. Gural is not motivated by money, he also does not want to preside over failing tracks in New York and New Jersey. The betting was that the slot parlors at New York tracks and the Meadowlands would eventually accommodate full-scale casinos.
The Northeast is already losing many of its casinos. Still, Mr. Bumazhny is hopeful about a casino at the Meadowlands racetrack. He is even optimistic about one in Jersey City, wherein a casino resort worth $4 billion has been proposed by Paul Fireman, a business tycoon.
Seeking a full-fledged support of people in Atlantic City as well as South Jersey, a 55% tax rate has been offered by Mr. Gural on gambling revenues expected from the proposed project. In the coming November, Mr. Gural, Mr. Fireman and Governor Christie expect a referendum on North Jersey gambling. For the same, Legislature vote is needed on referendum scheduling before August 3.
Mr. Gural said that Hard Rock chairman, James Allen, was ready to invest around $20 million to run an advertising campaign. And the proposed project was for New Jersey’s betterment.